I’ll spare you all the definitions, but the most common usage of this rather uninteresting little word is to express obligation, propriety or expediency. It’s this usage that I hear all too often, and the one I’m trying to eliminate from my vocabulary:
- I “should” call her.
- I “should” finish that laundry and start dinner.
- I “should” apologize.
- I “should” go to that event.
- I “should” exercise.
I think this word denotes a sense of powerlessness. It hints at the best of intentions, bound up in resistance. It implies that something outside of me is really in control of me. And it’s void of desire and purpose.
I can’t imagine Jesus being governed by a sense of obligation as he went about his daily life:
- I should heal that guy.
- I should forgive her.
- I should point out that great fishing spot to those guys.
- I should calm those seas before they swallow us whole.
- I should go up to Jerusalem now.
He lived out his years on earth in willing obedience to the Father. He lived his life, not driven by obligation, but rather drawn to do his Father’s will, in each and every moment.
Why would I let my days be governed by such a tiny little word? Perhaps listening to what I’m really thinking when I say “should” might be helpful: Is that a voice from the past I’m hearing in those words of obligation? And if so, why am I still giving that voice power in my life? Or am I resisting doing some task? And if so, why?
I have no easy remedy to propose for this “should-itus.” I think it’s about a process of listening and discovering why I do what I do. I want to be motivated by a sense of grace and gratitude, to live with intention and purpose. And to be gentle with myself when the “shoulds” are screaming too loudly in my ear . . . to hear them as reminders to reconnect to God and his purpose, in each and every moment.
So I’m interested to hear . . . are you affected by “should-itus?” If so, how do you counteract that?